Lawsuit filed against Johnson County long-term care facility

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Posted at 11:53 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 19:25:47-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A lawsuit has been filed by a Kansas City, Missouri, law firm against Brighton Gardens, a Johnson County long-term facility where 14 residents have died.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Gordon Grohmann family, alleges Grohmann, 88, died on May 1 from complications of COVID-19, which the suit alleges he contracted while at the facility.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak this spring, attorneys say more than 75 residents at the facility, located at 7105 Mission Road in Prairie Village, have tested positive for the virus.

The lawsuit alleges that Brighton Gardens staff failed to recognize that Grohmann started to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in late April, and it wasn’t until his family had him transported to a hospital on April 29 before he was tested for the disease.

"Brighton Gardens, overall, did not provide their staff with the appropriate training in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their facility," family attorney Rachel Stahle said. "These failures go all the way to the top. These facilities do need to provide their staff with what they need to do their job."

Grohmann tested positive for COVID-19 on April 30, and died the next day.

The family is hoping to recoup medical expenses associated with Grohmann’s treatment.

Last week, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment told the 41 Action News I-Team the county had notified the facility it needed to take immediate action to avoid further spread of the virus.

"I think the Johnson County Health Department tone is very telling of what's going on," Stahle said. "They're frustrated and they know this goes all the way to the top."

Last Thursday, a representative from the facility’s corporate owner, Sunrise Senior Living, told facility residents that the nursing director would be replacing the facility’s executive director, Lisa Barnes, who was also named in the lawsuit.

41 Action News has reached out to Sunrise Senior Living for comment regarding the lawsuit, which provided a statement Monday afternoon:

We do not comment on legal matters, and have yet to be provided with a copy of this complaint. Public health experts are struggling to respond to the unpredictable nature of this novel virus, as the pandemic reaches every corner of this world. We continue to implement guidance from the CDC and other health agencies, and our courageous frontline team members use their training, experience and love of our residents to protect and care for our senior population.

The suit isn’t the first to be filed by the firm against Kansas City-area long-term care facilities.

The firm also announced Monday it’s filed a fourth lawsuit against Kansas City, Kansas-based Riverbend, a long-term acute care rehabilitation facility.

More than 130 people have tested positive at the KCK facility, with 36 deaths.

Kansas is considering a new bill protecting businesses from lawsuits from people who get sick or die from COVID-19.Missouri and Congress are both considering similar measures.

"In general, these immunity bills are something that are abhorrent and they are not keeping these people in mind," Stahle said of the proposed legislation.